Ohio’s wild turkey hunters check 9,353 birds this spring

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After near extinction in the late 1800s, wild turkeys have been successfully reintroduced to all 88 Ohio counties, including the areas of intensive agriculture in the northwest. Wildlife biologist Mark Wiley said they can survive in these areas by making their homes in wooded areas along creeks and streams, then taking advantage of the grain left in farm fields. (Tim Daniel, Ohio Division of Wildlife, photo) rOriginal Caption:

COLUMBUS — Ohio’s wild turkey hunters have checked a total of 9,353 birds during the start of spring hunting season through May 8, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. 

The total statewide harvest represents 16 days of hunting across most of the state, nine days in the northeast zone, Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull counties and includes the 1,103 wild turkeys taken during the youth season April 9-10. 

Hunters harvested 11,779 wild turkeys over the same time period during the 2021 spring hunting season. The three-year average, 2019, 2020, and 2021 is 13,664 birds using the same dates. 

Hunting in the northeast zone is open until May 29, and in the remainder of the state until May 22. Hunting is now open from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset statewide. Additional information can be found in the 2021-22 hunting and trapping regulations booklet. The statewide bag limit is one bearded turkey. 

The top 10 counties for wild turkey harvest during the 2022 season so far are Tuscarawas, 264, Guernsey, 261, Muskingum, 253, Columbiana, 250, Harrison, 244, Belmont, 243, Jefferson, 239, Gallia, 234, Monroe, 229, and Meigs, 223. 

Declining wild turkey harvests, likely a result of lower wild turkey numbers and decreased hunter participation, have been a long-term trend since 2001, when Ohio’s harvest peaked. Several factors play a role in fluctuating turkey populations, including weather events, predation and hatch productivity. 

The Division of Wildlife is taking conservation measures to reduce the wild turkey harvest while ongoing research looks closely at Ohio’s turkeys. Each summer, the Division of Wildlife conducts a turkey brood survey to estimate population changes. Poor hatches from 2017-2019 have caused a temporary depression in turkey numbers. 

The Division of Wildlife remains vigilant in monitoring Ohio’s wild turkeys. Biologists expect the population dip to be temporary given the 2021 brood survey showed encouraging results. Young turkeys will be tracked closely in the coming years. The brood survey is largely based on public reports. Submit observations of young turkeys during July and August at wildohio.gov.

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